Save the Giant, Spitting Earthworm!
The three-foot long, spitting Palouse earthworm (Driloleirus americanus) has only been seen a few times in the last 30 years, for which many people are probably grateful. But scary or not, the Palouse earthworm is getting rarer and rarer, and both it and its ecosystem are in danger of extinction. Now the Center for Biological Diversity and several partner groups have announced their intention to file a lawsuit to try to get it protected under the Endangered Species Act.
This work to protect the worm isn't new. The groups first filed a petition to list as it as an endangered species back in August 2006. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not respond to respond to the petition within the federally required 90-day and 12-month periods. And so, the groups this week have filed a 60-day notice saying they will sue if the Service does not take further action. (Hey, it's a process.)
The Palouse earthworm has been threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, insecticides, and disease. It's the largest worm in North America, and native to portions of Idaho and Washington states. At least for now.
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